The peasantry played a central role in National Socialist ideology, as both a source of racial strength and a foundation of the economy. In this paper I explore the extent to which the regime's policies actually favored peasant farming. The first section looks at the overall character of agricultural policy and demonstrates that although peasant farmers were targeted for special assistance from 1933 until 1936, they were neglected thereafter as the economy geared up for war. In the second section I focus upon a particular set of policies——-the regime's attempts to promote the use of high-quality seed——-and show that while farmers as a whole probably gained from these measures, peasants appear not to have benefited differentially. In the third section I examine agricultural officials' attempts to establish a "division of labor" between public-sector plant breeding institutions and commercial breeders. I demonstrate that although the former had been successfully developing new varieties specifically designed for peasant farmers since the turn of the century, this work was henceforth to be curtailed so as not to "compete" with the private sector. In the conclusion I argue that neither the regime's policies on plant breeding nor the highly centralized character of agricultural policy-making can be regarded as specifically fascist.
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Research Article| November 01 2010
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Jonathan Harwood; The Fate of Peasant-Friendly Plant Breeding in Nazi Germany. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 November 2010; 40 (4): 569–603. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2010.40.4.569
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